Understanding Ant-Man’s Only Nemesis: The Dastardly and Brilliant Egghead
Journey Into Marvel – Part 60
Extremite, American sensibility is said to be different from the rest of the world because it elevates practicality over theory. Americans do things and Non-Americans think things. Although, I dislike this just on the grounds of generalization, I can see what and where this idea comes from.
What does any of this have to do with comics?
In the favourite trope, that we see countless times in the comics of the Marvel Silver Age, the villains always — the arch villains anyway — have this massive and brilliant plan, but they fail when the character decides to use the final moments of the scheme to talk. Look to Fantastic Four #8 to see what I mean. Never has this been more clear then in today’s Journey Into Marvel: the debut of Egghead.
Egghead can talk but when it comes down to the nitty gritty of action he fails. Like Hank Pym he’s a scientist. He comes from that class of folks that is unpopular in the Marvel bullpen. I am not saying that the folks at Marvel, in the early 60s, had something against educated scholastic minded individuals but notice that the best villains of the period hailed from this elite. Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, and The Porcupine just to name a few.
Egghead really takes the cake when it comes to discussion and inquiry. Throughout this issue he is constantly questioning the actions of the gangsters he’s working with, just to sure they are understanding how brilliant he is.
Egghead’s plot to get Ant-Man is quite ingenious by Silver Age logic. Egghead uses a special ‘ant only wave length’ to communicate with the bugs in effort to “appeal their vanity.”
Let’s digest that for moment.
I love the concept that the ants have an ego. Kudos Stan… that’s brilliant.
Egghead tries to compel the ants to rebel against Ant-Man because he rules over them like a master to his slaves. See, Extremite, my constant wondering about the role of the ants in Ant-man comics is playing off. Egghead and I are wondering the same thing. When the ants don’t listen to this plea, and revolt against Egghead, we readers finally learn that the ants are willing participants in Hank’s exploits.
Hank takes a back seat in this one to Egghead. Most of the 11 pages are devoted to setting up Egghead as a maligned nuclear physicist who needs to take his anger out on someone. He turns to Ant-Man because he’s just there. There’s no motivation beyond oneupmanship.
Ant-Man has always been about understanding the environment that surrounds him. It only makes sense that there’s a rival scientist to challenge him in his understanding. Invention verses invention. Egghead invents an ant communication device, and Ant-Man changes wave-lenth. Egghead invents a super adhesive that traps Hank and Hank counters with spring boots that launch him into Egghead’s face. This is a simple story about theoretical and extravagant inventions verses Hank Pym’s practical style.
Stan Lee and Larry Lieber are setting up ol’ Egg as Hank Pym’s arch-nemesis because the final panel promises us that Egghead will return to battle Hank another day. Check out this review of Egghead’s next appearance.
You gotta love Egghead. I wonder if there is some anxiety about scholastic minded folks from Stan Lee who dropped out of high school to draw and create comics flooding this comic.
Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds
Story I Read: “Betrayed by the Ants!!” (Tales to Astonish #38 Dec. 1962)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Pros: Ant-Man takes a backseat to develop Egghead and this is great. The motivations are clear and satisfying. Best line of the comics read so far “I’ll appeal to the ant’s vanity!” Hank and Egghead’s sense of one-up-man-ship.
Cons: I wish it was longer so the defeat could be more satisfying. There was such great set up, then it ended so fast.
Next Review: “Spider-Man/Spider-Man vs. The Chameleon” (Amazing Spider-Man #1 Mar 1963)
Last Review: “Prisoner of the Reds!” (Journey Into Mystery #87, Dec. 1962)
Posted on December 26, 2014, in Ant-Man, Marvel and tagged Ant-Man, Comics, Egghead, Elihas Starr, Hank Pym, Henry Pym, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber, Marvel, Marvel Comics, Marvel Universe, Stan Lee. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.